Tjongarero proud of Shalulile

By Michael Uugwanga

THE success of Peter Shalulile is down to his former coach Timo Tjongarero who discovered him and has overseen the forward’s meteoric rise, both at club level and for the Brave Warriors.

Shalulile finished the 2019/2020 ABSA Premiership as joint top scorer alongside Orlando Pirates and Malawian marksman, Hellings ‘Gabadhinho’  Mhango, after both men scored 16 goals each for their respective clubs. Shalulile’s immediate success in the South Africa’s premiership is no surprise to the man who helped discover -somewhat accidentally- one of the most exciting players in the Absa Premiership.

Shalulile joined Highlands Park in 2015 the same year the then unknown lanky player helped the Brave Warriors win the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup and has to date scored 12 goals for the Brave Warriors.

Said Tjongarero: “I think when we discovered him the boy was 13 or 14. We got him from a club called Patrick Iyambo in 2007 and it was the same year when we started with the Khomas Youth League under the Namibia Football Association (NFA). Petakie as I used to call him was very energetic from day one and I also used to call him Flash because he was very fast.

“As a youngster it is important to play in different positions to learn different responsibilities and decide the best position. We also tried to play him at center-back, wing, behind the strikers and at times as a striker.”

Shalulile left secondary school to pursue a career in football, something that Tjongarero -a teacher by profession- has urged Government to give learners sport as an option.

“It is not every day that a grade 10 dropout will come to a coach and say ‘school is not for me’ … and those were Peter’s words. He realised at an early age that school was not for him and he did not have vocational skills to do with his hands as all the skills he could do were with his feet. Because of commitment he pushed himself to do his best.

“People think that his 16 goals were a fluke but that’s not the case because before that season he had scored 12 goals. And before he even left for South Africa I think he had scored 12 goals for Tura Magic,” said Tjongarero.

Shalulile is well-known for folding his shorts high while tucking in and Tjongarero sees the funny side to this routine.

“I think each player has his own signature, own hairstyle or clothing. I think he does that (tuck-in) just to intimidate the other players.”

In recent weeks, there have been reports linking Shalulile to current Absa Premiership, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank cup champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.

“Peter never shies away from competitions. Even in the national team when he was around 17 or 18 years he was like that. His commitment, work ethic really makes him a good player … so much energy, that’s what I think Sundowns want because they do not really have (anyone of) Peter’s calibre.

“He just needs to work harder on his finishing because he already has a good work ethic, professionalism and commitment to this job,” said Tjongarero.